ABERDEEN – Aberdeen saw a double-digit lead trickle away in the fourth quarter and their chance for a trip to the state championship tournament disappear at the same time in the Class 3A boys’ North state semifinals on Friday night.
Cleveland East Side started the third quarter off on a 12-2 run to help secure a 65-64 win over host Aberdeen (25-9) and faces Kemper County for the North title tonight.
“It came down to two or three shots,” first-year Aberdeen coach Cornelius Gilleylen said. “If they make theirs, they win, and if we miss ours, we lose.”
Aberdeen overcame a slow start to take a three-point lead into the half. Derrell Carouthers’ basket near the end of the third gave them a 48-38 lead before East Side started its fourth-quarter run.
Marcus Carouthers hit a pair of free throws, then started off the three-point play with a dunk for the lead at 60-57 with 2:35 to go. East Side scored the next five straight points before a Nick Simms basket and another pair of Carouthers free throws.
Clarence Stewart’s three with 5 seconds to go ended up being the game-winner as Sammie Burroughs’ shot at the buzzer fell short.
“I told them we play 30-35 games a year, and you’re going to take losses that make you a better team,” Gilleylen said. “We just couldn’t make that shot at the end.”
Marcus Carouthers scored 22 points to lead Aberdeen while Simms (13), Tylan McMillian (11) and Derrell Carouthers (10) were all also in double digits for the Bulldogs.
Kemper County 69, Booneville 65: Booneville saw a 10-point lead trickle away in the third quarter, and Kemper County hit a 3-pointer to send things into overtime.
The Wildcats made the first two baskets of the free period, and Jack Nichols, Joseph Caver and Bonner Powell each scored for Booneville but were unable to cut the lead closer than two.
Nichols scored 25 points to lead Booneville (21-9), which was denied a fourth-straight trip to Jackson, while Caver notched 20 points.